I’ve been thinking lately about how challenging my adopted daughter can be. Every day it seems like there’s a new problem or complication. She had a rough life prior to her adoption. Even though she is in a safe home now and has been for 3 years, she still has issues almost daily.
I was talking to a friend of mine, who is an excellent life coach and supporter, and she mentioned to me that I am stuck in some unhealthy patterns with my daughter. Truth is, she’s right.
I don’t think many people understand that when you adopt an older child (and she was only 2 and a half when we got her), that is still so different than the infant we adopted that we brought home from the hospital. Even though she was young, she still missed critical developmental moments with us as her parents.
One of my realizations is that when you hold an infant, a newborn, you see the beauty and the miracle of life in that child. Regardless of biology, you can still see the gift of God in their eyes. When we started taking care of our daughter, we missed that innocent time where critical bonding happens. Not that we can’t try to repair it now, but when I’m honest, I can see that I don’t always see her as the miracle that she is. I see her as her problems, her mistakes, her diagnosis, her trauma, her behaviors. I don’t see the pure innocence and joy that I see in my other children that I am attached to and that I did have as infants. My heart breaks for her, as I realize she has never had a mom that purely loved her because she is a child of God or a miracle.
My next realization was that I have a lot of stories that I tell about her. The mind is organized in stories. My daughter’s story is one of trauma and heartbreak and burden and behaviors. Her story isn’t a story of miracles. My friend suggested I re-write my daughter’s story for my mind, and for hers. A start to this is the truth that every child is a miracle. She is a miracle and it is a miracle that she survived the circumstances she was put through. God has a plan for her life and a purpose in her creation and situations. God truly gave her to me when she and I were both in need of each other.
My challenge and opportunity today is to continue to re-write my daughter’s story. To change it to a story of triumph and overcoming and success. My challenge tomorrow is to re-write the future stories I tell about her. I have so many fears about her future and say, “If only we can get through high school” while she is yet in kindergarten. I need to re-write the future stories I tell into stories that are hopeful, and when she misbehaves, instead of jumping to “here we go again, she’ll never learn” into something more positive like “this is only temporary, she is doing okay.” Future prophesying limits her future and mine.
I still have a lot of work to do on how to help myself and help my daughter. I invite you to join me in supporting other adoptive parents by joining our online conversation in our private Facebook group, “Adoptive Parent Support Group | Clinton, UT.” Please share your thoughts with us.
Take away: Every child is a miracle, regardless of behaviors or circumstances; and there is no perfect parent!
Casherie Bright, Clinical Mental Health Counselor, is a partner at Neurofeedback and Counseling of Utah, along with her husband, Jeff Bright. “I love to work with children and their families to provide overall strategies on how to help the child adjust and find happiness. I don’t believe that children can be helped without supporting the parents.”
“My therapy methods tend to focus on skills (CBT) and changing core beliefs. My goal for each client or family is to help them create and visualize a life that is ideal and then work towards creating that life.”